Looking Back in Beacon

Il Cavallo

“Il Cavallo,” on display in Milan, was cast at the Tallix Foundry in Beacon.

Editor’s note: Beacon was created in 1913 from Matteawan and Fishkill Landing.

150 Years Ago (August 1873)

William Johnson of Brooklyn was hanging his arm outside a train window when it hit the iron work of a drawbridge north of Beacon and broke his elbow.

Matteawan residents were complaining about the unnecessary whistle-blowing by engineers from the Dutchess & Connecticut Railroad.

Black residents of Fishkill Landing met to discuss a plan to get their children admitted to the white public schools.

J.C. Beckwith of Matteawan was target-shooting with an old horse pistol when it exploded in his hand and the muzzle struck him in the forehead.

William Hall was digging a well with his young son playing nearby when the pick bounced off the hard ground and shattered the boy’s jaw.

Christian Reynolds, a former principal of the school for Black children at Fishkill Landing, died at age 60.

While John Cherry of Matteawan was hanging on a rope about 16 feet into his well to inspect it, a 5-pound rock came loose from the top and nearly struck him.

At 8:30 p.m. on a Friday night, two men mugged two Poughkeepsie residents outside the railroad depot. One victim ran but the other handed over a dollar.

125 Years Ago (August 1898)

The Dibble Opera House at Matteawan opened the season with Arthur Demmings’ traveling minstrels.

Jacob Reick, 33, a hatter at the Matteawan Manufacturing Co., was killed between Fishkill Landing and Dutchess Junction by an express train. He was returning home to his wife and four children after crabbing.

The Rev. Thomas Burgess, 55, rector of St. Luke’s Church in Matteawan and archdeacon of Dutchess County, died at the rectory after a short illness. A native of Maine, he had led congregations in Germany and Vermont, and his father was the bishop of Illinois.

J.P. Davis, bookkeeper for Benjamin Hammond, the paint manufacturer, took charge of the Fishkill Landing plant while the Hammond family was in Omaha, Nebraska, for the Trans-Mississippi Exhibition.

William Pollock moved his steam laundry from Cold Spring to Matteawan, where he said business prospects were better.

The New York Evening Journal, in a story beneath the banner headline, “Released Lunatic from Matteawan Asylum Tries to Murder,” reported that James Jones, a former nurse at the Park Hospital at 97th Street and Central Park West, attacked Clara Buck, the hospital superintendent, leaving her in critical condition.

George Carrick, 25, of Fishkill Landing, killed himself in Jersey City, New Jersey, by taking poison. A letter from a drug firm in New York City was found in his pocket that read: “Send on your samples; your services are no longer required.”

100 Years Ago (August 1923)

Beatrice McClintock, an artist from Beacon, and George Ward, a newspaper editor from Poughkeepsie, were married by a Poughkeepsie judge after a one-week courtship. Their parents were informed after the ceremony had taken place.

A fire of unknown origin destroyed three brick buildings at the corner of Main and South streets — the Beacon Pants Factory, the Melzingah Hotel and a garage owned by The Beacon Journal — causing at least $75,000 [$1.3 million] in damage. A firefighter, Edward Budney of the Beacon Engine Co., was injured when he fell through the garage roof. The city reservoir fell 2 inches, contributing to a water shortage.

President Warren G. Harding

Warren G. Harding

The city organized a memorial service at the First Methodist Church for President Warren G. Harding, who died Aug. 2 at age 57, apparently of a heart attack. The Beacon mayor asked stores and factories to close from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the day of the president’s funeral.

Three days after the fire, 50 women employed at Berland and Gottesman, a rival pants maker, walked out after being told their wages were being cut in half because there was now a glut of workers.

George Plumb, a painter from Beacon, was arrested and jailed in Poughkeepsie for parking in front of a fire hydrant.

“Bad” Bill Monroe and Harold Barrett, 17, were arrested on suspicion of the torture and murder in July of Andrew Barrett, a recluse known as “Woodchuck” or “Chuck” who lived on Fishkill Mountain. They were apparently in search of hidden cash in Barrett’s one-room shack. During a police interview, Harold Barrett, the victim’s nephew, said, “I suppose I’ll go the electric chair for this,” before falling silent. Barrett had $1,000 [$18,000] in bank accounts in Beacon and Fishkill but had not made a deposit in eight months.

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Batt and their son, George, moved from Highland to Beacon, where Mr. Batt had purchased a florist business.

Police were searching for five young adults from Poughkeepsie after a Beacon man was knocked unconscious during a brawl outside Klein’s dance hall near Fishkill.

Samuel Beskin, a former mayor, bought the bankrupt Overland Headware Co. at auction for $7,000 [$125,000]. Beskin owned the building where the straw-hat factory operated and planned to restart production.

Workers were boring wells to provide 200,000 gallons of water per day to a new veterans’ hospital in Chelsea. Federal authorities had been talking with Beacon about hooking into its supply, but one official said “there was no certainty that the city would have water to sell us.”

75 Years Ago (August 1948)

Based on their grade-point averages, Charlene Moore and Jerry Harrell of Beacon High School were among 827 students awarded full scholarships by the Education Department to any state university in New York.

Three Beacon men were injured when a beer keg exploded at a lawn party in Glenham for lab workers from the Texas Company [later Texaco].

Raymond Woodfield of Beacon was elected great prophet of the New York State Council of the Improved Order of Red Men, a fraternal organization that mimicked Native Americans.

A 30-year-old Brooklyn woman died of an apparent heart attack while competing in a Vienna waltz contest at the Camp Beacon casino. She and her sister were renting a cabin on the property for the summer.

Three Beacon men refused to serve on an Army draft board unless it was moved from Poughkeepsie to southern Dutchess County.

A 20-year-old inmate at the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane died of heat exhaustion after being placed in a “restraining sheet” as temperatures soared to nearly 100 degrees. Hospital officials said the patient had been restrained after threatening an attendant with a piece of steel sharpened against a stone.

The Rev. Mattie Cooper announced that Springfield Baptist Church would hold a Labor Day barbecue with gospel music at its new building at 28 Beekman St.

After being presented with a petition with 700 signatures from voters — or 250 more than was needed by law — the City Council ordered a referendum for the November ballot on whether Beacon should switch to a city manager and proportional representation, rather than a council of commissioners. Mayor J. Lewis Bolton argued that a city manager system was anti-American and would “put Beacon back 30 years” as well as lead to racial and religious conflict.

50 Years Ago (August 1973)

As part of a plea agreement, a 32-year-old Wolcott Avenue man pleaded guilty to first-degree assault for shooting a Beekman Street woman four times inside a Beacon bar. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. He also faced a second assault charge for earlier hitting her over the head with a bottle.

Thirty to 40 teenagers — including three who had been arrested the night before for loitering on Main Street — gathered outside the locked doors of City Hall to protest the lack of a youth center, while the City Council met upstairs. As two commissioners left the meeting, a young man called out: “What we want is a place where we can go and not be bothered by you, and you, and you,” pointing at the council members and police officers. Mayor Robert Cahill, who rejected a request to meet with the teens, left through a back entrance. He told a reporter: “There is plenty for them to do, even more than when I was a kid. If they want to congregate, let them congregate in their own yards.”

In response to complaints from residents about a lack of enforcement when bags of garbage were left on curbs before collection day, Cahill said at the City Council meeting that the police had enough to do fighting vandalism at the city’s water supply areas, confronting “defiant teenagers” and rounding up stray dogs. He noted that the city landfill was running out of space, so picking up the garbage more than once a week may not be possible.

Nine teams entered the second annual Steven Quill Memorial Basketball Tournament at Rombout Middle School; the rosters included Rich Rinaldi, a former pro with the Capital Bullets. The tournament was named for a former Beacon High School basketball star who drowned in Fishkill Creek.

Police responded in riot gear when a crowd of 100 people — “mostly young Puerto Ricans,” according to the Poughkeepsie Journal — walked up and down Main Street late on two weekend nights to protest slurs and fighting they blamed on white youths, as well as a lack of Puerto Rican police officers. Police said a Molotov cocktail was placed under a Sheriff’s Department squad car and rocks thrown at a passing car. “At that point, police dressed in helmets came out of headquarters in force and were taunted by the crowd,” the paper reported. The mayor and police chief agreed to meet with Puerto Rican community leaders.

The People’s Coalition for Quality Education presented a petition to the school board with more than 1,000 names calling for the reinstatement of Arthur Browne as principal of Rombout Middle School. Browne had been the first Black principal in the district but after a year was reassigned to his former job at the high school.

A design report to enlarge the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge from two to six lanes by adding a second span estimated the project would cost $100 million [$688 million], or $25 million more than anticipated.

Two teenage hitchhikers from Newburgh were arrested after they allegedly stabbed and bound a driver before forcing him into the trunk of his car. The 20-year-old Newburgh man had picked up the teens at 11 p.m. at the Beacon end of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. After driving around, the suspects dumped their injured victim near the Beacon disposal plant, where a worker called police.

A consultant told the state Urban Development Corp. that Beacon, Poughkeepsie and Haverstraw were not suitable for the construction of a deep-water Hudson River seaport and instead recommended Newburgh.

Don McLean, the Philipstown resident best known for his hits, “American Pie,” “Vincent” and “Dreidel,” reportedly sang one song during an appearance at the Dutchess County Fair, said he had a sore throat and turned the stage over to Pete Seeger, the folk singer and Beacon resident.

25 Years Ago (August 1998)

Facing a lawsuit by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, the City Council said it would spend $27,000 to repair the roof of the Memorial Building. Mayor Clara Lou Gould said no agreement had ever been made with the vets about maintenance, but the city administrator pointed out that the city owned the building.

The state opened a maximum-security “modular unit” with 100 cells at the medium-security Fishkill Correctional Center. The free-standing unit was designed to house disruptive inmates sent from other prisons.

The performers at Clearwater’s annual corn festival at Riverfront Park included David Crosby, Pete Seeger, Melanie, Asha Nan and Stir Fried.

The City Council named James McCollum, a senior foreman for the city water department, as superintendent of water and sewer. The post had been vacant for a decade; the city was paying a private firm to manage the filtration plant.

Arthur Deering

Arthur Deering

Police were searching for Arthur Deering, 46, a Vietnam veteran who was last seen boarding a Metro-North train at the Beacon station on June 20 on his way to an appointment at the Veterans Affairs hospital at Montrose.

A Beacon woman who worked as a cashier at Walmart in Fishkill was arrested for allegedly allowing two friends to buy $1,700 in merchandise with a stolen credit card and counterfeit bills.

A 20-year-old man survived a 170-foot fall from the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. “He did survive,” said a state police investigator. “He’s the first I’ve heard of.”

The Tallix Foundry in Beacon unveiled a 12-ton, 24-foot-high clay model of a horse that it planned to cast. The sculpture, “Il Cavallo,” was based on a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci of a clay model that was destroyed in 1499 by invading French soldiers. In 1977, an airline pilot, Charles Dent, read in National Geographic about da Vinci’s model and began to raise the money to replicate it as a gift to Italy for display in Milan.

5 thoughts on “Looking Back in Beacon

  1. I find it odd that so many people died in the 19th century from being hit by trains. A train death seems to appear in every month’s column. I mean, were people that slow, or didn’t they hear the trains from a mile away? [via Facebook]

    • My guess is there was usually alcohol involved, and walking the rails was the most direct route home. In the era before electric signals and other safety technology, it was also far more dangerous to be a track worker.

  2. You mentioned that, 25 years ago, the Tallix Foundry unveiled the clay model for the 24-foot-high “Il Cavallo.” If you can’t get to Milan to view the sculpture, there is a replica at the Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan, because Frederik Meijer was a major donor of the effort to recreate daVinci’s horse. [via Facebook]

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